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Golf Captures Fifth-Straight Top Three Finish
No. 5 Alabama and No. 17 Virginia were able to outlast No. 40 Liberty in what turned out to be a three-team race for the title during the final round of the 14th-annual Cleveland Golf Palmetto Intercollegiate on Tuesday.
The Crimson Tide captured their third-straight team title and fourth of the 2010-11 season, as Alabama fired a nine-over par 849 (288-277-284). No. 5 Alabama finished 11 shots clear of the 18-team field that included 10 Top 100 programs and six ranked inside the latest Top 50.
No. 17 Virginia bested No. 40 Liberty by four strokes during the final 18 holes of competition, allowing the Cavaliers to leapfrog the Flames in the final team standings. Virginia finished the event in second with a 20-over par 860 (291-280-289), while Liberty claimed its fifth top three finish in six team events this season with a 22-over par 862 (285-284-293).
The Flames, who posted their third-best 54-hole team total of the season, have now finished inside the three at the last three Cleveland Golf Palmetto Intercollegiate events.
Rounding out the next four spots on the team leaderboard were No. 46 Chattanooga (280-294-292) and No. 58 East Carolina (293-285-288), who shared fourth place with a 26-over par 866.
No. 41 Clemson followed in sixth place with a 28-over par 868 (285-286-297) and No. 69 Vanderbilt took seventh place with a 37-over par 877 (291-284-302).
Alabama's tournament victory was due in large part to a record-setting performance by Bud Cauley, who blistered the par-70, 6,617-yard Palmetto Golf Course with a nine-under par 201 (66-66-69). The junior bested the previous course record by three strokes on the golf links that is considered the fourth oldest golf course in the country.
Two other golfers in the 90-man field finished the two-day event in red figures. East Carolina's Harold Varner took second with a four-under par 206 (71-67-68), followed by Vanderbilt's Adam Hoffman, who finished third with a one-under par 209 (70-69-70).
Robert Karlsson finished as Liberty's top golfer in the event. The junior, who individually ranks No. 40 in the country in the latest Golfstat rankings, finished tied for ninth place.
Karlsson closed with a one-under par 69, his fifth sub-par round in nine career trips around the Palmetto Golf Course. He finished the event with a three-over par 213 (73-71-69) and a share ninth place with Virginia's Ben Rusch (72-69-72).
Preston Dembowiak, who came into the day in a three-way tie for second place, fell slightly off the pace. The senior finished the event tied for 11th place. After carding rounds of 70 and 68 yesterday, he closed with a six-over par 76, to finish the tournament with a four-over par 214, the third-best 54-hole total of the Summerfield, N.C., native's collegiate career.
Chase Marinell shared 11th place with Dembowiak, as he also carded a four-over par 214 (70-71-73). The 214 was the freshman's lowest 54-hole total of the season. It bested his 215 showing at the season-opening Golfweek Conference Challenge in a field that featured seven Top 75 program from the previous season.
Closing out Liberty's last two golfers in the field were Max McKay and Andrew Colvin. McKay finished the event tied for 58th place with a 17-over par 227 (72-80-75), while Colvin was one stroke behind him with an 18-over par 228 (74-74-80).
The Flames will return to the golf links, next Monday and Tuesday, when Liberty's squad travels to Orlando, Fla., for a repeat showing at the Rio Pinar Invitational.
Last year, the Flames finished the UCF-hosted event in seventh place with a 24-over par 888 (295-299-294). McKay was Liberty's top golfer at the event. The "Sunshine State" native finished tied for sixth place, after posting a one-under par 215 (72-71-72) at the par-72, 7,001-yard Rio Pinar Country Club.